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Thursday, 26 February 2015

DIGITAL MIGRATION: RESUME BROADCASTS OR LOSE PERMITS, CA TELLS MEDIA HOUSES

Empty NTV studios after the Communications Authority of Kenya switched off analogue transmissions of NTV, QTV, KTN and CITIZEN TV signals on February 14, 2015.
Kenya's communications regulator has warned that three broadcasters risk losing their licences if they do not resume transmissions on signal distributors Signet and Pan African Networks Network Group (PANG) in three days.

Four television channels run by Nation Media Group (NTV and QTV), Royal Media Services (Citizen TV) and Standard Media Group (KTN) have been off air since February 14 when the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) enforced a switch over from analogue to digital broadcasting in Nairobi.

READ: Kenya sticks to global deadline for TV shift

“We are issuing them with a second and final warning after which we will take an independent regulatory action by revoking all their operating licences,” Francis Wangusi, the CA director-general said on the sidelines of the East African Communications Organisation (EACO) Postal Conference held in Nairobi Wednesday.

The analogue signals have since been repossessed by the CA and the Africa Digital Network (ADN) – a consortium of the three media houses – could take up to three months to lay its infrastructure under a self provisioning permit issued in November.

The regulator said the consortium has failed to meet the demands earlier required of it by the CA, which include submitting a Kenya Revenue Authority compliance certificate and a CR12 form.

“The Authority has in its possession a certificate of incorporation for ADN which was part of the application by the three media houses consortia,” said CA in an email.

Form CR12 is a letter confirming the directorship and shareholding of a company. It is normally issued by the registrar of companies or by the company secretary or director of the company in question. In the case of ADN form CR12 was issued by the companies registry, backed by an affidavit and submitted to ADN.

ADN is yet to receive an infrastructure licence, while hoping the government will extend the digital migration deadline.

“I expect the GoK/CA will have to move the analogue switch off to April/May to allow the three media houses to bring in the set-top boxes and transmitters. If the standoff continues, then the TV blackout will continue until when the three expect to be back on air when their transmitters are installed and the set-top boxes distributed,” said Paul Muite, ADN lawyer.

The spat between ADN and the government revolves around a “must carry” regulation which allows digital TV operators to retransmit content from broadcasters for free and without their consent.

READ: Strong commercial undercurrents in analog-to-digital migration wars

The Supreme Court ruled on February 13 that digital migration must continue as planned, rejecting the TV stations’ request for a three-month extension.

However, the Supreme Court also ordered CA to immediately restore the self provisioning digital signal distribution licence and the frequencies to ADN.

“There was no condition to it and therefore all these requests for CR12 etc are in contempt of that court order,” Mr Muite said.

CA switched off the stations a day later citing non-compliance with the pre-agreed analogue-digital migration schedule. The media houses in protest switched themselves off from the available digital platforms.

The East African

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